Elliot and I have decided to postpone working on the Fresnel lens until warmer, sunnier weather here in Austin.
In the meantime, I intend to create a new project, which I call "Sparmark", a human readable system for parallel markup.
Parallel markup is the idea of NOT modifying a document with markup but rather creating a separate, parallel document to hold markup which essentially represents a transformation of the original document. When I studied this field some years ago, the research for it was not terribly advanced, and I thought it was a field in which amateurs such as ourselves could make a significant contribution.
I believe Ted Nelson has been the biggest contributor to this field with his idea of Transclusion. I found this paper: Embedded Markup Considered Harmful http://www.xml.com/pub/a/w3j/s3.nelson.html to be a particular compelling and cogent expression of the problem.
In this post on New Year's Day I can't put down all of my ideas about this, but here is a summary:
- I think we should create an open-source project to create parallel markup standards and software tools that will make transclusion much easier. I imagine Python to be a language particularly well-suited to this, although I have never used it. (My previous work on this was in LISP.)
- We must focus on creating a forgiving and human-editable markup. In particular, I intend to draw inspiration from the markup that human copy editors do with a pencil. The fact that we must deal with electronic texts should not prevent us from learning from the analog standards that copy editors have developed over decades. XML is a terrible failure because it focused on software tools rather than human use.
- I'm going to go out on a limb and try to create some videos and other things to recruit others to be involved in this project. This log is very lightly read. I don't seem to be very good at affecting my fellow workers, but I intend to continue working on it.